Kris Liakos: March 2008 Archives

We Forgot The Cubs

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cubs clock.jpgAs shrill and masochistic commenter Grunter pointed out... we forgot the Cubs lineup! I guess that picture of Dusty in a Cubbie uniform really did mess me up. Anyway they're in the 4th against Milwaukee... but the game is deeeeeeeeeeeelayed.

R Theriot SS
A Soriano LF
D Lee 1B
A Ramirez 3B
K Fukudome RF
M DeRosa 2B
G Soto C
F Pie CF
C Zambrano P

I don't give a shit about Grunter, but I just hope John Cusack isn't mad at me. He's dreamy.

Mets Vs. Marlins: There Will Be Spanish

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Florida-montage.jpgAt 4:10, the Mets and Marlins will go get em some of that sweet sexy Opening Day action. Johan Santana makes his Mets debut, but I think the real story here is the start of the Marlins quest to be the first baseball team to go 162-0.

New York:

J. Reyes ss
L. Castillo 2b
D. Wright 3b
C. Beltran cf
C. Delgado 1b
A. Pagan lf
R. Church rf
B. Schneider c
J. Santana p

Florida:

H. Ramirez ss
D. Uggla 2b
M. Jacobs 1b
J. Willingham lf
C. Ross cf
J. Cantu 3b
L. Gonzalez rf
M. Treanor c
M. Hendrickson p

I wish I was there, watching the game and eating an Arepa. Why the hell didn't we get Darren to write these Opening Day posts. What do we pay him for anyway? Oh wait, we don't.

Continued updates from Country Joe West: Conine threw out the first pitch... Mets lineup got louder reception... Billy the Marlin is a douche, and Marlins fans are less threatening than Jesus...Johan threw 8 pitches including a K... Uggla still hits like Rob Deer...

Holy Crap I Am Writing A Lot & White Sox Vs. Indians

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si_indians1.jpgA couple of things. First off, stuff we did just a couple hours ago is getting pushed off the front page. Click the "archives" or "monthly archive" buttons or click the "lineups" tag to find it, if you just got here. This is still your prediction thread.

Secondly, reader Country Joe West, sends in the following dispatch via text from Dolphins stadium for the Mets/Marlins game:

"Drinking w/ Jersey transplant Met fans... everything reeks of churros... 'Don't Stop Til You Get Enough' is playing on PA"

That sounds approximately 25,000x better than any of the dispatches I've gotten from northern stadiums thus far today. Northern stadiums like newly monikered Progressive Field where the Indians are hosting the White Sox. The lineups:

Chicago

N Swisher LF
O Cabrera SS
J Thome DH
P Konerko 1B
J Dye RF
A Ramirez CF
A Pierzynski C
J Crede 3B
J Uribe 2B

Cleveland:

G Sizemore CF
J Michaels LF
T Hafner DH
V Martinez C
J Peralta SS
R Garko 1B
A Cabrera 2B
F Gutierrez RF
C Blake 3B

Buerlhe takes on Sabathia in one of the best pitching matchups of the day, and Ozzie Guillen starts the season on a piping hot bench. I'd watch this one if I wasn't in the office pretending to work.
oriole.jpegThe Orioles/Rays are due to kick off in about 15 minutes, although, Surprise! The weather is shitty. The team kind of is too.

Brian Roberts - 2B
Melvin Mora - 3B
Nick Markakis - RF
Kevin Millar - 1B
Aubrey Huff - DH
Ramon Hernandez - C
Luke Scott - LF
Adam Jones - CF
Luis Hernandez - SS

It's Jeremy Guthrie on the hill against James Shields. I like Guthrie. I like Lowen. I like Adam Jones. Otherwise, I just feel for you, O's fans.

D'backs Vs. Reds: Also Postponed For Wetness.

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noahs_ark_rainbow.jpgThere is a theme today. It's raining in Cincinnati. Start of the game is delayed until it lets up. When it does, here's the D'Backs lineup:

C. Young cf
O. Hudson 2b
E. Byrnes lf
C. Jackson 1b
C. Snyder c
M. Reynolds 3b
S. Drew ss
J. Upton rf
B. Webb p

Man, where is Rick Dempsey today? I used to love his slippin and slidin rain delay antics. No one does that anymore. AND there's not even any good YouTube of it. Just those moron fans from the Braves game that did it themselves. That shit was kind of weak. Someone find me good rain delay blooper videos. Kthxbai.
phils.gifPhillies beat writer Todd Zolecki has the Phillies lineup posted. It goes a little something like this. Counting off with drumsticks... 1-2-3-4!

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat Burrell, LF
6. Pedro Feliz, 3B
7. Jayson Werth, RF
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Brett Myers, P

1-4 is one of the best in the majors. Hands down. It's the rest of the team that could pose problems. That and the spelling of Jayson Werth's name. It's annoying. When this game starts, DMac over at Philly Will Do will have the liveblog for it.

In other news, Rob just sent a text saying it's so cold at Yankee Stadium that he went to a urinal and couldn't find his dick and the crowd is extremely agitated.Also they announced "After speaking to weather authorities, the forecast is not as promising as we thought. We are evaluating our options."

This roughly translates to: "Buy beer and food for a couple more hours, then we'll cancel the game."

UPDATE: Game postponed until tomorrow evening. Iracane to spend rest of evening drying out his perm.

Kansas City vs. Detroit

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guillen.jpgOver the weekend, Jay Gibbons and Jose Guillen were both cleared to play for now, until their 15 game drug suspensions have been reviewed. Guillen is in there at cleanup. The entire Royals lineup goes:

D. DeJesus CF
M. Grudzielanek 2B
A. Gordon 3B
J. Guillen RF
B. Butler DH
M. Teahen LF
R. Gload 1B
J. Buck C
T. Pena Jr. SS

Detroit counters with:

E. Renteria SS
P. Polanco 2B
G. Sheffield DH
M. Ordonez RF
M. Cabrera 3B
C. Guillen 1B
I. Rodriguez C
J. Jones LF
B. Inge CF

On the hill, it's Meche vs. Verlander. Consider this thread open for all you Royals nuts out there. I'm eager to see these Tigers hit, though their bullpen trouble has me considerably cooled on their overall chances.

Let The Games Begin... As Soon As This Rain Stops

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george jersey.pngThe Yankees are about to open up the final season at Yankee Stadium against the Tampa Rays. Mark Feinsand at the Daily News has the lineup, and is about to begin a liveblog. Use it to augment your gamecast for riveting flash action!

Wait, what's that? Rain delay, and according to a text message from Iracane they are playing all kinds of songs about rain at the stadium. Including "Umbrella" by Rhianna. Hopefully they've got the video on the Jumbotron too. She is hot like fire. Anyway, the Yankees lineup:

Johnny Damon, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jason Giambi, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, C
Hideki Matsui, DH
Melky Cabrera, CF

That's a lot of bat. Especially when you think that they scored nearly 1000 last year and Abreu is do for a bounceback year. Enjoy the game, when it starts.

Mariners Lineup More Yuniesky Than Pesky

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mariners.gifSeattle Times columnist, and huge homer, Geoff Baker has the Mariners lineup for their 6:40 tilt against the Rangers.

CF Ichiro
2B Jose Lopez
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Brad Wilkerson
DH Jose Vidro
C Kenji Johjima
SS Yuniesky Betancourt

Meh. Underwhelming. I understand the Angels have had some injuries, but are Bedard, Hernandez and Putz really good enough to make this team the favorite?

Tim Salmon > salmon.

Wheeee!

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happy_kid_203_203x152.jpgSo as you can probably tell, we're trying to report on every opening day lineup we can get our hands on. I also have a couple of moles at different games across the country today. I'll be relaying their impressions to you. Stick with WoW for all* of your Opening Day needs! In case it gets pushed off the page, here's the post where you post your various and sundry predictions

Also, President Bush will not be joining me in the booth later today.
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*some
rays.JPGMark Topkin sends along the Rays lineup:

Akinori Iwamura, 2b
Carl Crawford, lf
Carlos Pena, 1b
B.J. Upton, cf
Cliff Floyd, dh
Willy Aybar, 3b
Eric Hinske, rf
Dioner Navarro, c
Jason Bartlett, ss

It's an Eric Hinske sighting! Hinske gets the start for his 3rd AL East squad. The lineup is pretty impressive, even if I still don't believe the hype. But hey, Carlos Pena at the 3 spot? That's a mighty big job for the Comeback Player Of The Year.

Coming To America: Blue Jays Lineup In New York

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lineup.jpgBlue Jays reporter and psychedelic wordsmith, Cathal Kelly links us up to the Toronto lineup for their game against the Yankees at 1:05:

1 - David Eckstein
2 - Matt Stairs
3 - Alex Rios
4 - Vernon Wells
5 - Frank Thomas
6 - Lyle Overbay
7 - Aaron Hill
8 - Marco Scutaro
9 - Gregg Zaun

Look at all that grit! I hope border agents don't hold them up when they see Vernon Wells passport says he's 29. If they're Blue Jays fans they'll think it's forged since last year he looked 40.

Home Run Derby: Mantle Vs. Mays- 1959

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ESPN played repeats of this show in the late 80s and early 90s. It was one of my very favorites when I was a kid, and just recently I found the DVDs and got them for my dad. Exceptional stuff. Here it's The Say Hey Kid against The Mick with host Mark Scott. I always loved the interactions between Scott and the players.

Part One


Part Two


Have a good weekend, everybody. I'll be back with you on Monday, but Rob is going to be at Yankee Stadium for opening day. His boys take on Toronto for the opener at 1:05.

Get some rest. When you wake up Monday morning baseball will be here.
cubs clock.jpgCubs owner Sam Zell is in talks to sell the Cubs to a state run agency, the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. One of the most interesting parts of the proposal is that if the deal gets done, the ISFA says Wrigley needs extensive renovations to keep the Cubs, possibly displacing the Cubs for a season, like their crosstown ursine compadres were. In fact they'd probably play the games at US Cellular Field, home of the White Sox. While some may think of this distraction as bad for the team, coumnist Steve Rosenbloom thinks it's the Cubs best shot at a title.

Because I'll tell you what, if the Cubs play mostly night games on the South Side, that will be the reason they win the World Series that season. Baseball players are used to night games and it takes even smart players a long time to adjust to Wrigley's alarm clock. But if you give a good Cubs team a schedule that baseball's body clocks are used to, they'd have to be a favorite, especially in a season like this, where the NL East and West are strong and the Central is weak.

So, think about that: Cubs fans would celebrate the end of the longest championship drought in sports history in the park of their dreaded city rival instead of their outdoor beer garden, so how happy would they actually be? Talk about the ultimate example of being so Cub. And Sox fans will say that the only reason the Cubs won was because they played in a real baseball stadium, but really, how much solace could a South Sider get in knowing that the franchise that sells sunshine will hoist the most recent World Series banner?

Totally, dude. But why wait till then? I have a perfect idea. Instead of wasting time in huge 8 hour chunks, The Cubs should just sleep for 20 minutes of every hour! They'd be like supermen with all they could accomplish.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt

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stretcher.JPGWelcome to the final Spring Training Creampuff. If these fragile porcelain mice don't heal up their owwies before the end of the weekend they'll be missing some honest to goodness gametime. So say your prayers and eat your vitamins, you Marys. It's time to go out and work for a living.

Scott Rolen, Blue Jays: After taking a ball off his finger a couple weeks ago, Dr. Self-Destructo intitially looked like he'd be out ten days or so. That's been debunked and now Rolen could be looking at 4-6 weeks on the shelf.

JD Drew, Red Sox: Drew experienced some tightness in his back in Japan. Last season Drew managed to avoid most of the health problems that have plagued him, but word on the street is that his and Josh Beckett's back pain are sexually transmitted. Wrap it up, guys. Drew hopes to be back for Tuesday's game against Oakland.

Jerry Owens, White Sox: Ok... start snapping your fingers with a little swing to it. Then sing it with me like you're an upbeat backup soul singer... "Jerry Owens has a tear in his groin!" It's a painful thing but for some reason the syntax of that sentence makes it kind of funky. He's starting the season on the DL, and if Joe Crede contiues to be an injury magnet after the demotion of Josh Fields... well let's just say things could go south for Ozzie real fast.

Jeremy Hermida, Marlins: Don't try and sing "Hermida pulled a hamstring." It will just make out sound like you're in They Might Be Giants. The move is retroactive so he will miss only a handful of games.

Kelvim Escobar, Angels: In really bad news, Escobar looks to miss the entire season with a labrum tear. You have to hope that's the worst of it. Labrum tears can end careers and Escobar's just now peaking.

Kris Benson, Phillies: Tendinitis in his right bicep has hampered his return from shoulder surgery. He's in the minors where experts say he will soon break his fingers, sprain his wrist, strain his forearm and blowout his elbow.

Wall Street Journal: Bear Stearns > Joe Torre

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torre.jpgIn today's Wall Street Journal, Darren Everson tackles the eternal question, "Is Joe Torre worth the money?" When it comes down to brass tacks, $13 million over 3 years is a bit much for any manager, especially one with a such a dubious rep among baseball's ever increasing brotherhood of statheads. But I'd bet a lot of the lunkheads reading their WSJ over a steaming hot cup of homeowner blood are "results guys" and need these numbers broken down for them.

In close games, in which a manager's decisions in baserunning, pitching and substitutions tend to make the most difference, Mr. Torre's teams have struggled in recent years. Over the past three seasons, his record in games tied after the sixth inning is 23-31 -- a .426 winning percentage, compared with .588 in all games. Several of his peers, including Ron Gardenhire of the Minnesota Twins and Willie Randolph of the New York Mets, have performed better in close games.

There's also some evidence that Mr. Torre negatively impacts the performance of his players. Last fall, David Gassko, a former major-league consultant and a contributor to the Hardball Times Web site, did a study of major-league managers through 2006, determining how many additional games a manager won or lost for his team per season. Of the 422 managers he studied, Mr. Torre's score was the sixth-worst.

Everson hedges some of his bets (I believe the financial term for this is 'hedging your bets) by pulling out the intangibles card (I beieve the financial term for this is 'bullshit'), and in the process completely disgusts me by inserting the following quote into an article about Joe Torre.

"There's something in jelly that makes it jelly," says Mr. (Bill) James, senior baseball-operations adviser with the Boston Red Sox. "Without that, it's runny grape juice with a lot of sugar in it. That's what the manager is. He's not the thing you taste, not the thing you're really trying to get to; he's the thing that holds it together."

You're goddamned right Joe Torre isn't the thing I taste. If you need me I'll be pouring bleach in my ear trying to erase that quote from my memory.

Do I think he's worth the money? The simple answer is no, if want the most wins for your money. But in a town like LA where a big name goes a long away, I think the answer is, 'meh... maybe.'

The Wil Cordero Memorial Linkpunch, Thursday, March 27th

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linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

  • Who were the best players with sub-Mendoza career averages? The Baseball Analysts

  • Charlie Manuel's encounter with a whirlpool full of nude Geishas. The 700 Level

  • A look back at Sam Mellinger's spring with the Royals. Ball Star

  • Fastest pitchers to 100 wins often struggle down the road. Joe Posnanski
That's it for today, kiddos. We'll be back tomorrow with all your Funny Friday Favorites. Enjoy the basketballs this evening.

Leansies, Farthies & Dustys

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cardpack.jpgUsually I'm loathe to write about anything I find on MLB.com. The whole thing is just a press release clearing house. I'm not even sure why they run the stories with a byline. Of course this cynicism is something I've honed over the years, it isn't really inborn. As such, it makes sense that I'm lifting my embargo to write about an article on Saturday being... FREE BASEBALL CARD DAY! KICKASS!

To celebrate, fans can sign in at mlb.com/cards and receive a free pack of baseball cards. Each pack will contain five base cards from Topps, five base cards from Upper Deck, one chase card from Topps, one chase card from Upper Deck, and one informational card.

Participating hobby stores will also hand out free packs on National Baseball Card Day, as will stadiums that are hosting some of the final exhibition games before the regular season gets under way.

I don't collect baseball cards anymore but you can be sure if I'm out and about on Saturday I'm picking up my free pack, Duder. The photo caption says something about Pat Neshek being a card collector or something which makes sense because he seems like a dork.

So you got me and Pat Neshek going to pick up our free cards this weekend. Anyone else? Oh yeah, Dusty Baker! According to Iracane's boyfriend, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Baker keeps a handle on his pitching staff by reading the back of their baseball cards.

When Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked before Tuesday's game how much weight he gives to a pitcher's "most recent outing" when it comes to making the team, he turned the question on its head and talked about the hitters.

"(Looking at) 'most recent outing' would make you a frontrunner," Baker said. "And I ain't no frontrunner. I don't look at 'most recent outing.' If that that was the case, half the guys wouldn't (make) the team. If that was the case, (Edwin) Encarnacion wouldn't even be on the team.

"I look at the baseball card; I look at what I think he might do; I know what he is doing. It's a combination of things."

Between starts, Dusty likes his players to do the workout from the Grape Nuts package and eat meals entirely composed of little Ritz cracker sandwiches from the back of the box.

The Glory And Wonder Of The Blue Jays Blog

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bluejayguys.jpgSo yesterday I laid out some vague ground rules for what I thought a newspaper blog should and should not be. Before those really sink in, let me make one huge exception. The Blue Jays Blog from the Toronto Star. Lord fuck a duck, I love these guys. You may remember last week, I shared their Fear And Loathingesque chronicles of Alex Rios' RC helicopter. Well my friends, that was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their radditude. To wit, their twisty turns of phrase led some people to believe that a prominent member of the Canadian Press had died, when he had not.

"Shi Davidi is not dead. If the emails and comments are anything to go by, I may have given people the wrong impression when I noted recently that CP's estimable baseball beat writer is 'no longer with us'. I meant that in the literal sense, as in 'not in Florida'. Not as in 'has shuffled off this mortal coil'.

Shi himself messaged me. I'm sure his family was getting worried. I told him that my (virtual) powers are limitless and that the Star's travel budget does include a provision for witch doctors and raisings from the dead, not to be confused with the water cure.

So Shi is alive and well, though still labouring under the misapprehension (along with MLB.com's Jordan Bastian and the FAN590's Mike Wilner) that a constant Tampa diet of P.F. Chang's will not eventually kill him. They continue to insist to me that a nightly partaking of disstilled spirits will do likewise. We agree to disagree."

That's from Cathal Kelly. He is but one head of the four headed literary beast that is following this middle of the road Toronto squad. For your viewing pleasure, all four heads are prominently displayed along the right margin of their page, and accompanying this post. RAWR. I've had some fun making my own captions, but how could I even top the one that actually accompanies Mark Zwolinski?

"A Toronto native, he's also a big fan of drag racing and muscle cars, but that's another story."

I fucking bet it is. I want that rogue, Cathal Kelly, to recount it to me.

But ferreals, these guys have 58 years of combined experience writing about the Blue Jays and a style that veers toward the surreal. In a recent mail bag, Richard Griffin said that AJ Burnett, "seems to be trying to fit in more as a regular human being." I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Some Newspaper Blogs No Longer Utterly Useless

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babytype.jpgThe tabloids in New York are known for three things: Barely concealed bias, inane punny headlines, and top of the line sports coverage. If you're looking for sports info in Gotham, you'll find all you need in The Daily News or The Post. HOWEVA, in the interest of bringing you the very finest in breaking baseball coverage, here at WoW we subscribe to just about every newspaper blog out there. The New York Times runs a joint Mets/Yanks column called "Bats" and despite it's unfortunate name, the coverage is decent, especially since the Times is decidedly not known for its sports coverage.

Well on Monday, Yankees beat writer Tyler Kepner made his 2008 AL predictions, and made the mistake of picking the Yankees to miss the playoffs entirely. He has them second in the East, with the Angles securing the Wild Card berth. It didn't take long for some NYT readers to put down their sparkling cider and cry foul. Some excerpts:

So, the Yanks won't even make the playoffs, huh? Maybe *you* should be writing for the Globe, Kepner. If Hughes and Mussina don't start getting guys out, and Pettitte's back aches for a while longer, you just might be right.

You ever notice how rarely you see writers look back at the end of the season to review the accuracy of their pre-season prognostications? Yeah, I think we know why. -- Posted by a.O

I had a great uncle who was an old time New Yorker. Always greeted me with "Have a cigar, boy." He was so old fasioned that he wore spats. His advice that he felt would guide me for the rest of my life was this: "Never bet against the Yankees, boy." -- Posted by JULIAN BARRY

Now I'm not saying there's a connection...but doesn't the New York Times Co. own a part of the Boston Red Sox? Yup, I think so. Interesting...

There hasn't been a Bronx-free playoffs in over a decade, and with Yankee Stadium in its last year and Stienbrenner Jrs in their first, I wouldn't be surprised to see them pull out all the stops come trading deadline this summer. -- Posted by Adam Peck


I wonder what Ken Tremendous has to say about the final year of a stadium's effect on team win shares. Not all of the comments were like this, more than half (a huge percentage for a newspaper blog) were very reasonable, but Kepner felt he had to categorically defend his picks in yesterday's blog. The column comes off as a strange mix of reasoned explanation and "but don't worry I think the Yankees are going to go 162-0 next year."

This scene stands in stark contrast to the one that played out on Geoff Baker's Mariners Blog from The Seattle Times. A couple weeks back after the Angels starting suffering the heavy losses in their rotation, Baker picked the Mariners to win the division. I didn't agree with him at the time, and apparently neither did the vociferous M's fans that got in touch with Baker to let him have it. In his column yesterday, Baker asked aloud, "Just what the hell is up you guys?"

Anyhow, some of you will be pleased with that result. Others, I'm not so sure. I'm now a full 18 months into my stint in Seattle and I'm having a hard time figuring out what drives M's fans. What got me thinking about this was a question from a media colleague last week. "So, what do you think of the fans in Seattle?'' he asked me. "Do they behave like fans in other cities?''

I wanted to tell him yes, but couldn't. That day, I'd already gotten a couple of the usual emails from M's fans chiding me for picking the team to win the division. Haven't stopped hearing about that one. Thing is, I wasn't hearing about it from fans of the A's, Angels or Rangers. I was getting blasted by M's fans. And I'm sorry, that just isn't standard practice in other cities.

Baker goes on to talk about how growing up Montreal, Habs fans were insane, both devotionally and critically, but he couldn't imagine them slamming a local reporter for picking them to win the division.

Even though these two instances fall on opposite ends of the reaction spectrum I think they both point to something positive. Newspapers are finally starting to understand what a blog is supposed to be. It's not having your beat writers pepper me with 20 two-line roster updates every day, and it isn't your columnist telling me about the game and what new records he's listening to. It's a fluid conversation of ideas about baseball between the writer and their readers. Newspapers have the access to make these conversations insightful and meaningful. Maybe once writers begin to make this transformation, they can stop worrying about us bloggers taking their jobs and make the blog part of what they do.
Although this is a few days old I feel guilty not spreading the lolz. Last week, DCist posted this awesome video urging Nationals fans to take the Metro to this years game at Nationals Park.



I really enjoy the driving sequences.

Even though I am subjected to the evil and inept MBTA, I'm still a big public trans guy, and think it's a good idea in nearly all instances. However it seems an especially good idea for Nationals games, seeing as how the parking sitch has thus far been really kind of a nightmare. The Metro has lingering questions of its own but if you get stuck with them at least you'll be able to spend the time reading The Onion instead of having to listen to talk radio.

(We owe cokes to both DCist and reader Saldawg for pointing us to them.)

Red Sox Vs. A's Liveglog

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liveglog.jpg 6:08 AM: Whoa! Who set my alarm, Eric Gagne? At least I didn't miss first pitch.

6:10 AM: First pitch of 2008 is a strike from Joe Blanton to Pedroia.. second pitch hit between short and second. Pedroia gets on.

6:12: Youkilis hits a chopper to Hannahan at third, bobbled, gets the out at first. This A's Team is a really shitty one to blog about at 6AM since like 12 of them are making their major league debut. Ortiz flies out to Hannahan.

6:14: I hope "Manny is going to have a monster year" isn't the "Vampire Weekend is going to be huge" of the 2008 Red Sox season. Red Sox commentator Joe Orsillo just said it. Manny flies out. End of the Boston 1st.

Japan Opener Live Glog!

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liveglog.jpgI'm having a very hard time calling tomorrow "Opening Day" but regardless, there will be a game that actually counts in the standings, and WoW will be watching. The game starts at 6AM EST and I'll be taking my first ever crack at this liveblogging thing. At about 8:15 I'm going to hand the reins over to Rob so I can catch the train and get to work. It promises to be a unique experience and one I hope you all will check out hours after the fact, when you get to work at a reasonable hour and turn on the computer like normal people.

Okinawa Jujitsu! (See you at 6!)

That's Why They Play The Games: '08 AL East

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sox.yanks.JPGLast year the Red Sox took the AL East lead on April 18, and never looked back. The Yankees mounted a late charge and got the division it's 9th wild card in 13 years. Of course this was all covered ad nauseum by the MSM, since they act like the Sox and Yankees are the only teams playing baseball. Here, we couldn't care less since Rob and I are followers of the Cleveland Spiders and Seattle Pilots, respectively. But in the interest of you, the reader, I'll tackle the division preview after the jump.

Playing in the AL East: The last recession proof occupation!

The Wil Cordero Memorial Linkpunch, Thursday, March 20th

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linkpunch gorillaSometimes people write better than us. Each Tuesday and Thursday WoW gives you our favorite baseball links we've come across.

Rob is sick, and I guess there are some basketball games on or something, so this is your last post for a little while. Enjoy tournament day. If you haven't already, there's only a couple more days to send in your picks for our Prophecy Of Mediocrity Contest, so get on it.
fuji.jpgAfter the Yankees opened last season against the Rays in Japan, they returned and had an abysmal April. Many were quick to point out that perhaps that trip started them off on the wrong foot. I saw some merit in that argument, and was less than excited when I saw the Red Sox would be taking the A's in this year's Sushi Series™. With pitchers usually ahead of hitters this early in the season, the Sox hardly need Kevin Youkilis getting eaten by Mothra or Mr. Fuji throwing any blinding powder in Manny's eyes.

Today the AP is running a story from Bobby Valentine, a man who has used Japan to resurrect his career even more than Bob Harris. Valentine brings up a point that I really hadn't cared thought about: How are these series affecting the Japanese?

"I hope the Red Sox and A's have a great time here and I'm sure everyone will enjoy it but it's ludicrous that our games will be going on at the same time," Valentine said. "The timing is a mistake and I guess that's something that slipped through the cracks when they were planning the schedules."

With all the fanfare surrounding the arrival in Japan of the World Series champions Boston and their Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, the opening of Japan's professional baseball season on March 20 seems like an afterthought.

I feel you, Bob. My Metallica cover band has terrible time getting anyone to come see us when Metallica is in town.

Valentine's opinion and the opinion of anyone else I've talked to, all point at a fundamental truth about these games. Baseball is so desperate to look like it's trying to "preserve the spirit of the game" in the face of myraid scandals, but this Japan series is a blatant money rip. Scheduling these games in the regular season is a mistake. It doesn't benefit the players. It doesn't benefit American fans, and now we learn it doesn't even benefit fans of Japanese baseball.

penguin.jpgHey, guess what. There's a feud going on between the Brewers and the Angels. No, seriously. It all stems from last Spring when Mike Scioscia didn't start enough front line players in an exhibition game.

The Brewers filed a protest with the commissioner's office last spring after the Angels, for the second straight year, sent a team of minor leaguers to Maryvale for the Cactus League finale while their regulars played an exhibition at Angel Stadium that night.

Teams must bring a minimum of four position players who were regulars the previous year or had a "reasonable chance" of being regulars this season to spring road games.

So Ned Yost "did little to diffuse" the feud by fielding an amateur team of his own for Tuesday's game. OHHH SNAP, NED! Why didn't you just take your balls out and hand them to Scioscia when you were trading lineup cards? That'll teach the Angels to mess with the Brewers!

I can only see this ending two ways:

1. Bloody knifefight.

B. I forget about it the second I finish writing this post.

Spring Chickens: National League

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kid.jpgWelcome to part two of my look at guys that are younger than me but still have accomplished as much if not more than I have. This week I'm tackling the National League. You can read part one about the American League, here.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks: The Snakes have had more than their share of young talent emerge over the past few seasons. Conor Jackson, Justin Upton, Chris Young and Steven Drew have all become important pieces of the team. This year, there are no real young guns on the horizon prepared to make in impact, it's up to the new regulars to fulfill this team's big potential. Although there is this guy they got from the Royals, Billy Buckner. His name seems so familiar but I can't remember why...


  • Atlanta Braves: Jair Jurrjens, acquired from the Tigers in the Edgar Renteria deal has had a couple of solid spring starts and looks poised to join the Braves rotation. That has to be a great experience for a young pitcher. Talking to Smoltz and Glavine about versatility, poise and what it was like to pitch to Rogers Hornsby.


  • Chicago Cubs: Prospect Sean Gallagher has pitched well this Spring but apparently the Cubs have too many quality veterans in the rotation to make room. Hey Sweet Lou, three of those starters are named Lieber, Dempster, and Marquis. The Cubbies are also hoping catcher Geovany Soto's impressive cameo last season was for real.


  • Cincinnati Reds: Johnny Cueto is bowling people over down in Florida this spring. The Reds still like last year's big callup, Homer Bailey, but it looks like he may start the year at AAA, giving Cueto a shorter path to the rotation. OF Jay Bruce was thought by some to be a ROY candidate, but the signing of Corey Patterson may have pushed him out of the the starting lineup for now. Of course the only thing better than having all of this young talent, is having just the right guy to harness it.


  • Colorado Rockies: Last year's first pick Casey Weathers missed first cuts and will start the year in the minors. Franklin Morales, who impressed late last season is getting the piss knocked out of him this Spring. While I don't usually put stock in Spring numbers, scouts are also saying his velocity is down. Uh oh.


  • Florida Marlins: Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller both came over in the Cabrera/Willis trade and will see significant time this season. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing Miller's debut with the Red Sox in 3 years
  • .
  • Houston Astros: J.R. Towles is the Astros catcher of the future. He can rake and his name sounds like something my old roommate would name a bong. Woo! Hard throwing Felipe Paulino was competing for a spot in the rotation but he has a pinched nerve and will be out at least a month.


  • LA Dodgers: Andy LaRoche was one of the most highly touted rookies coming into the season but he took a fastball right to Thumbkin and is out for 4-6. With Nomar also hurt... hold on this record is skipping... ok... Blake DeWitt, who won the Mulvey Award for top rookie in camp, could see some early time at 3rd base.


  • Milwaukee Brewers: The pitching staff in Milwaukee is as crowded as any in baseball. With very few open spots, lefty Manny Parra has been lights out. In limited big league action last season he averaged almost a strikeout per inning and is ahead of that pace this Spring. Slugging OF Matt LaPorta has been assigned to AAA which makes me happy because he's a Florida Gator so he can kiss my ass.


  • New York Mets: No immediate rookie impact expected, but the Mets appear very glad to have kept Fernando Martinez. He's hitting well so far in camp.


  • Philadelphia Phillies: Jason Jaramillo looks to be the catcher of the future, but isn't ready yet. THE CONTRACTORS SAID HE WOULD BE READY. Stupid baseball robot construction delays.


  • Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates' top two prospects, Steve Pearce and Neil Walker were both assigned to AAA. Makes sense when you have that much veteran talent already at the major league level.


  • San Diego Padres: Chase Headley has an awesome porn name and a chance to make the team as an outfielder since Jim Edmonds is already hurt.


  • San Francisco Giants: The illustrious Brian Bocock already has a tag on this website and is filling in nicely with the glove for Omar Visquel.


  • St. Louis Cardinals: OF Colby Rasmus is the pride of the farm system and will probably see some time as a call up this year. He's got lots of tools... but can he drink?


  • Washington Nationals: John Lannan was impressive in his short major league debut last season and has been the same thus far in camp.
giant check.jpgHey there, loyal WoW reader(s). We've been at this for exactly a month now, and by way of thanks for coming along with us, we're proud to introduce the Prophecy of Mediocrity Contest.

The rules are simple. Just send an email to our intern Darren (Darren@walkoffwalk.com) with the following information:
1. Your real name or your commenter name, whichever your prefer.
2. The six teams you think will finish third in each MLB division in 2008.
3. The average number of wins for all six 3rd place teams (this will be the tiebreaker).

Make sure you write "Contest Entry" in the subject of your email. You have from now until 11:59 PM on Sunday night.

The winner will get a Walkoff Walk T-shirt (which we have yet to design... but it's a long season), a post on WoW, and a random baseball card of my choosing from a giant trunk in my parents' house.

It's our way of saying thanks, and getting even more excited for the season. WE GET TO WRITE ABOUT ACTUAL BASEBALL GAMES! WOOHOO!

Blue Jays Show Sense Of Whimsy; Scathing Racism

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IAF_Helicopter_Strike.jpgThe Toronto Star employs 4 baseball writers, all of whom contribute to the paper's Blue Jays blog. Sunday's effort was light, breezy and more than a little odd. The byline read Richard Griffin, but to me it read more like one of Hunter S. Thompson's twilight sports columns.

There are several disjointed sentences about Frank Thomas, a couple bouts of onomatopoeia, references to OJ Simpson, ospreys and machine guns, and, strikingly, this Archie Bunker channeling blind item:

At the end of the morning, the highlight was Alex Rios bringing his five-month-old hobby out onto the field -- a four foot long, gasoline-powered, remote control helicopter. As Rios set up, refueling his impressive looking machine on the warning track in front of the bullpen, one of his teammates remarked jokingly, "I'm staying away. I don't trust a Puerto Rican with a sharp object in his hands." This was just men being boys.
This paragraph raises more question than it answers. Why is the remote control sharp? Who is the hilarious teammate and why does he go unnamed? It's all very confusing, but if Richard Griffin starts calling himself Doctor and goes on a peyote binge with Cito Gaston, you heard it here first.

GAAH! JEFF FRANCOUER IS A VAMPIRE!!1!!1

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Not really, he just got hit in the face with a baseball.

Matt T. with the gory picture tip. We owe you a Coke.

NY Post Reports Yankees Sign CC Sabathia In The Future

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zoltar-1.jpgYesterday at Legends field, C.C Sabathia sat in front of his locker in the visitors clubhouse and was asked on a scale of 1-10 how stoked he is to be playing for the Yankees in 2009. After finishing his four innings of work, he talked to the 3 or 4 Cleveland reporters about the start. Suddenly a group of New York fatties descended on him, covered in mozzarella stick crumbs and still out of breath from jerking it to pictures of Spitzer's call girl.

Q. The Yankees are always heavily involved in free agency, any thought about that and your free agency?
A. "No, I'm focused on this season right now, playing in Cleveland and trying to win," said Sabathia.

Q. Do you like New York?
A. "New York is fine," said Sabathia. "We only go there a couple of times a year. It's fun when I go there."

Q. When you went to New York to get the Cy Young Award over the winter, did any New York fans talk to you about coming to the Yankees?
A."I had fun there, but no fans said that," said Sabathia.

That last one is my favorite. What would a reporter glean from that information?

"Yes, someone did approach me and they screamed 'COME TO THE YANKEES YOU HOMO' then jumped back on the garbage truck." That's a real compelling story.

Of course the Yankees will be the leading bidders for Sabathia's services, but is the press really going to jump on the story this far in advance? Way to play it cool and not drive up the price, you jackals.

Famous Baseball Drunks: A St. Patty's Day Tribute

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kcfanattack020920.jpgNo one enjoys a drink more than me. I also love to shirk responsibility, so excuses are high up on the list of things I like. While I'll be staying home this evening and filling out a stack of brackets, I imagine many of you will be out using St. Patrick's Day as an excuse to get retarded drunk and do things you'll regret until at least the Fourth of July. In your honor, here's a list of drunk baseball milestones. I've left out drunk driving incidents because they're not funny, and I think it would take up too much space on our server.

If there's been a subtext to this blog so far, it's that baseball players are kind of dumb. Throw in some sauce and you get the following sample of the alternatingly despicable, moronic, funny and sad. Much like you at work tomorrow morning.

1907: Ty Cobb gets drunk and slaps a black groundskeeper.

1918: Babe Ruth gets drunk and throws piano into lake.

1931: Lovell Mantle gives birth to son, Mickey.

1980: Bob Welch says of the rehab facility he attended in Arizona: "It's not so bad. It's a great place to meet women."

1988: Roger Clemens heckles the recovered Bob Welch saying: "Drink beer, like a real man, not any more of that milk!"

The Entire decade of the 80's: Wade Boggs drinks over 50 beers on each cross country flight.

1994: Marge Schott says she doesn't want Reds players to wear earrings because "only fruits wear earrings." I assume she was totally loaded, like always.

2001: Mike Cameron drives in 8 RBI in an August game vs. the Yankees. Later admits to being drunk.

2002: Tom Gamboa gets shit kicked out of him by totally wasted William Ligue Jr. and his 15 year old son in Chicago. God, has it been five years already? Hillary should try and tie this to Obama.

2007: Seattle Mariners sign Carlos Silva to $44 million contract. Entrie front office assumed soused.

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt This week

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stretcher.JPGYesterday at work, I hurt my back bending to pick up a piece of paper behind my desk, and had to lay on the floor in an empty office until I felt good enough to try and stand up again. It sucked. I'm not sure if it's related to any of the rehab I've been doing for major knee surgery, but it's quite possible. I tend to stare coldly and angrily at anyone that makes light of my recent spate of health issues.

All that being said, I have no compunction poking fun at the injuries of the following players. They're rich and mostly dumb, and can kiss my hypocritical ass.

Joel Pineiro, Cardinals: When Pineiro went down this week, an already light Cards rotation just about vanished into thin air. I thought to myself, "Jesus what are they gonna do now, sign Kyle Lohse?" I was just kidding... and then they signed Kyle Lohse. If my next two premonitions are correct, Brad Radke better start looking for apartments in Arlington (see below) and I'm going to have a delicious grilled cheese samich mere minutes from now.

Nomar Garciaparra & Andy LaRoche, Dodgers: Nomar got hit in the wrist with a pitch. Again. That's some groundhog day shit. In the very same game, Andy LaRoche tore a ligament in his thumb and is out two weeks. Unfortunately for the Dodgers those two were fighting to be the starting third baseban. Fortunately for the Dodgers, now Joe Torre can't screw it up.

Brandon McCarthy, Eddie Guardado, Vicente Padilla, CJ Wilson & Kevin Millwood, Rangers: Hey remember a couple weeks back when we were talking about how lousy the Rangers pitching staff is? Well now half of them are hurt. That can't help. Its gotten so bad people are blaming the mound. It's kind of like the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash if Lynyrd Skynryd were terrible and no one cared much about their music in the first place.

Rocco Baldelli, Rays: Not fun. Baldelli revealed that he has "metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities" Rocco says he isn't retiring but after a couple minutes on the field he feels like he's been working out forever. Shitty, but I'm using this excuse the next time my old lady asks why I stopped going to the gym.

Doug Mirabelli: Red puffy eyes, sniffles.

Casey Janssen, Blue Jays: After a stellar 2007, Jansen was the leading candidate to be BJ Ryan's set up man, but now after a tearing his labrum, he's a leading candidate to watch a ton of Price Is Right over the next few months. He's out for the season. Apparently this opens the door for Armando Benitez marking the first time in the past year that's happened somewhere other than El Pollo Loco.

Nationals Letting Fans Bogart The IPod

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dmitri young's son.jpgSwingin' Maury Brown over at The Biz of Baseball reported this morning on the Washington Nationals letting fans decide the musical programming at games this season. Wow. How populist! Oh, nevermind, fans get to pick from a list of (mostly) trite tired or just plain awful stuff:

The "You Make The Call" promotion will run from Thursday, March 13 at 9:00am through Wednesday March 26 at 5:00pm. Fans may choose from a selection of songs, including "Because We Can" by Fat Boy Slim or "Song 2 (Woo Hoo)" by Blur for the Home Run song, and "Build Me Up Buttercup" by The Foundations or "Shout" from Otis Day and the Knights for the Seventh Inning Stretch. Choices for the Nationals Victory Song include "Beautiful Day" by U2 and "How Do You Like Me Now" by Toby Keith. If you'd like to peruse the entire list, feel free. But I'm telling you, there's only one song on there I give a damn about. Kenny Rogers is a demigod. Here are my suggestions for each of the three songworthy occasions:

You wanna get this party started? That's the list. I'm also available to DJ weddings and Bar Mitzvahs as well as write out the Nationals lineup card.

Spring Chickens: American League

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kid.jpgIn the interest of writing about something Spring Training related that will actually effect the season, Rob and I will be highlighting rookies from each squad. I'm using the same requirements as MLB for rookie classification.

Even if these youngsters don't have a breakout season, they've already accomplished much more than those little assholes who stand outside my Circle K, smoking and blocking the door. I HAVE A LEG BRACE ON, YOU TWERPS.

  • Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles had a couple glimmers of hope going into what is sure to be a mostly dark season, and right now even those aren't looking so good. Lefty Troy Patton, the centerpiece (for the O's) of the Miguel Tejada deal is out for the year after a labrum tear. Defensive specialist and likely Tejada replacement, Luis Hernandez has made 3 errors already this spring, and if he digs himself a hole defensively his bat won't get him out. Reliever Radhames Liz has shown improvement from last season, and could play a role in the bullpen at some point this season.

  • Boston Red Sox: Blah blah Jacoby Ellsbury... blah blah Clay Buchholz.

  • Chicago White Sox: Chicago is trotting out 3 young pitchers: Gavin Floyd and John Danks in the rotation, and Nick Masset in the pen. I'm not sure if they're technically rookies and don't feel like looking it up. Oh well, I went three teams in before dropping the conceit. Anyway, Chicago's season is riding on more young hands then Teri Hatcher. Unfortunately for my comedy, true rookie Lance Broadway has been getting the shit knocked out of him.

  • Cleveland Indians: The Indians have 3 lefties in camp vying for a rotation spot. The Indians like Aaron Laffey's stuff, but Cliff "Best Lefty In The Game" Lee seems to have emerged as the fifth starter.

  • Detroit Tigers: Detroit traded the last of the big league ready young talent to the Marlins, but with the bullpen disintegrating like a tab of acid, don't be surprised to see some call ups.

  • Kansas City Royals: Luke Hochevar was the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 and following a strong spring, has a chance of making the staff. There are 7 things working in his favor as he tries to grab one of two open roster spots: Brett Tomko, John Bale, Jorge De La Rosa, Kyle Davies, Hideo Nomo, Brian Lawrence and Mike Maroth.

  • Los Angeles Angles Of Anaheim: Brandon Wood and Erick Aybar have been putting up solid minor league numbers and now look to crack the Angels lineup and join that Mouseketeer-aged infield. In researching this piece I've seen Wood compared to Mark Bellhorn, Mike Schmidt, and Troy Glaus. I think this just means he's really dumb. Aybar could split time at SS with Maicer Izturis.

  • Minnesota Twins: Both Phillip Humber and Carlos Gomez came over from the Mets in the Santana deal. Humber is a middling starter who's already had Tommy John surgery. Gomez has been called "raw" by every publication that's written about him or Mets fan that's mentioned him. Through experience I've found this projects to a .235 average, 25 SBs and lots of grunting and mastication of live animals. What a trade!

  • New York Yankees: Blah blah Joba Chamberlain... blah blah Phil Hughes... blah blah Ian Kennedy.

  • Oakland A's: A piece in itself, the guys at Baseball Analysts projected 6 different rookies making a dent. 1B Daric Barton has gotten the most press. He suffered a hand injury this spring but returned to the lineup with a HR.

  • Seattle Mariners: Catcher Jeff Clement was the 3rd overall pick in 2005. He has dynamic skills behind the plate. Unfortunately, Seattle's third favorite Japanese guy, (1. Ichiro 2. Masaharu Morimoto) Kenji Johjima, has a lock on the position. Manager John McLaren says he has "too high a ceiling" to be a backup and will probably start the season at AAA.

  • Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria has garnered so much hype without doing anything that you'd think he was discovered by Pitchfork.

  • Texas Rangers: Homegrown Eric Hurley is a big kid with big expectations. The Rangers are wary of pushing him too quickly, but with Brandon McCarthy hurt, there could be a spot for him. People also like 1B Chris Davis, but our boy Evan Grant expects him to start the year in the minors.

  • Toronto Blue Jays: Older than God.

That's A Spicy Meatball; Livid Old Man

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lasorda.jpgWhoa. Who spiked the Slim Fast? Feisty and rotund octogenarian Tommy Lasorda decided to mix it up with an ump yesterday, his first game as Joe Torre's temp. Lasorda let the Fixodent fly, arguing over a fair/foul call. Tommy certainly showed that people his age can do more than just drag down the economy.

" "They've always liked that when I'd go out and start arguing. Put on a little show," Lasorda said."

Tommy Lasorda. The consummate entertainer. Except when he's paying for oral.

Who Is The Next Coach Of USC Baseball?

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usc girlsThat is my clever way of introducing managers with hot asses... I mean managers on the hot seat. You see, the University of Southern California has two coaches, Pete Carroll and Tim Floyd, who were unequivocal disasters at the pro level but have reached measures of success (great and middling, respectively) at USC. Seems to me it would be a good move for the university to take one of this season's fired MLB mangers to coach the baseball team.

So... who's it going to be? Here's my list of candidates

  • Ozzie Guillen, White Sox: Dios mio. There's a pretty good chance Ozzie will have to buy a ticket to watch the All-Star game. If he does get tossed off the South Side he'd be a perfect fit in Southern California. Just don't take him to West Hollywood.

  • John Gibbons, Blue Jays: Toronto didn't do all that much in the offseason, except trading Glaus for Rolen, which is like trading a grey rock for a black rock. A couple of injuries somewhere in J.P. Ricciardi's Stockpile Of Mediocrity© and the Blue Jays could see themselves passed in the standings by the Tampa Rays. If that happens, Gibbons could be canned and do a lot worse than doing a little surfing and eating some In-N-Out Del Taco.

  • Willie Randolph, Mets: It's well documented that the Mets ended last season with a giant sucking sound. Even worse, they didn't seem to care all that much. Not good for the manager. This year this team is the presumptive favorite. These things add up to a short leash for Willie. But hey, why worry about those homos on the 7 train, when you can chill out on the 5 freeway?

Anyone I missed? Leave 'em in the comments.

Dear Pelicans: Please Attack Billy Crystal

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crystal_billy_cp_7778758.jpgOf all the things I dislike about the Yankees, Billy Crystal is perhaps the most insidious. That smug, "aw shucks look what they did to Roger Maris" brand of smoked salmon and caper stained nostalgia pisses me off to no end. Of course, the organization loves it. They must think of him as a Real New Yorker or a Real Yankee or some other such made up shit that they've appointed themselves the arbiter of.

It's Crystal's 60th birthday this week (I must say, he doesn't look a day over 67) and the Yankees are helping him celebrate by letting him suit up for a spring training game.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he had not decided where to play Crystal. "Billy Crystal has done a lot for this organisation," he said. "He's always been a big part of it. This is our way of rewarding him, saying thanks for everything you've done."
Really, Joe? How so? Did the kvetching from his box seats distract Byung-Hyun Kim and Tim Wakefield? Did he give hitting tips to Reggie Jackson?

For his part Crystal gets to act surprised and drop in an annoying bit of vague familiarity with the team.

"I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of the Yankees and commissioner Selig. I know this'll be tougher than the Broadway Softball League, but I'm looking forward to helping the younger players - which by the way, is all of them."
Oh, that Billy! He knows his Yankees inside and out! What a dipshit showbiz elf. My only qualm about Thursday's game is that it's not against the Devil Rays. It would have been sweet to see him get drilled in the fro as part of the growing animosity between the two teams. Unfortunately, the Yankees are playing the Pirates so Crystal will probably hit for the cycle and we'll never hear the fucking end of it.

Texas Girls Vying To Chase Frank Catalanotto's Balls

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Laurie Fox wrote a great and evocative piece for the Dallas Morning News about Rangers Ball Girl tryouts. It's a textbook example of how to make an entertaining story out of a little piece of preseason whimsy and humanize the participants while making your readers smile. I highly recommend it.

So of course, I'm going to copy and paste all the things that sound vaguely sexual!*

  • Their primary responsibility is to chase down balls

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  • They can't be afraid to sacrifice their bodies for the sport.

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  • Several of the girls could not get over the size of Hank Blalock's bat.

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  • During the Sunday tryouts the players bounded and lunged across the emerald grass, stopping line drives. Then, with determined faces, they each whizzed the ball back across the field.

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  • A hopeful Rachel Smith said she hoped to standout from the field by catching balls in her mouth.

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    *I made up two of these.

Joe Girardi Is A Baby, Joe Maddon Is A Yuppie

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Bang.jpgTwo days after the fact there's still huffing and puffing about the collision at home plate between the Rays' Eliot Johnson and the Yankees' Francisco Cervelli. Joe Girardi pitched a conniption fit and now... oh, Christ. Someone woke up Zimmer.

"I am surprised that Girardi went after it the way he did," Zimmer said. "The plate was blocked, and our guy bowled him over. What's that got to do with spring training? That's how you play the game. "I'm talking about a guy (Girardi) that's like a son to me. I can't believe he went after it the way he did because that's not Joe Girardi."

Oh, Don. You're like a sentimental talking English Bulldog. But you're right. Ron Gardenhire also chimes in for the LoHud article, and the consensus is one I agree with. Sure, you hate to see someone get hurt like that before the season ever starts, but it happens. A young guy like Johnson hasn't logged anytime in the majors and is trying to make the team. Instincts can get in the way. Simmer down, Girardi.

Unfortunately Cervelli is also a young guy looking for playing time and now he's out 8-10 weeks. Even worse, the injury is to his pizza dough tossing wrist.

In related news, Joe Maddon's emo glasses bug the crap out of me. Before I read this story, Rob and I were discussing the incident and the ensuing bickering. I joked that Joe Maddon hadn't spoken out because he was too busy listing his favorite Elvis Costello songs and reading recipes for artisan bread. And then... this quote!

Asked whether he needed to talk to Girardi, Maddon made light of the situation "I've always liked Joe," he said. "If he would like to have a conversation, I'd like to talk about politics. I'm good with global warming. I'm good with a lot of different topics on a daily basis. I like iTunes; I download some stuff off iTunes, I like different restaurants. I like red wine. I have a lot of different areas I can go conversationally."

Some may see that as Maddon displaying a wry sense of humor, a fine trait to have if you have to manage in Tampa. I see it more as a threat. If this escalates into a bench clearing brawl this season, someone is getting smacked with a baguette.
skid_marks.jpgThe Canadian Press is awesome. They're a non profit news sharing agency for the country's various multimedia outlets. That is so much sexier than the AP I can't even stand it. Anyway, they also have a pretty good sense of humor as evidenced by this headline: "Jason Bay looks forward to better times with Pirates, perhaps another team."

Yes, perhaps.

Bay has put on a stoic face over the past 5 years in Pittsburgh stringing together some decent to great seasons in that baseball wasteland. Apparently he upset some people this offseason by making what the CP calls, "blunt assessments," and what I call, "stating the completely obvious."

On the final day of the 2007 season, Bay said, "To think we're going to win 100 games or go to the World Series next year with the exact same team it would be a little foolish." Then, at the Pirates' annual fan festival in Pittsburgh in January, he said, "I think that, for a championship-quality team, you need to make more moves. And I'm not talking about the .500 team we can be. I don't think anyone in this room is going to tell you we're a championship-quality team."

Gasp! Anyone that got mad at Jason Bay for saying that is fully brain dead. New Pirate GM Neal Huntington has hinted that the team could be stripped of it's valuable veterans in a rebuilding scheme meaning that Bay and... no one else could be traded for prospects. Bay is trying to be diplomatic, and not revealing how orgasmically liberating it would be to have his career released from the talons of Pirates suckitude.

"I'd love to be part of the turnaround but I understand that if things don't work out and there's a direction they want to go, there'll be a few different names that aren't here and that's just how baseball works," said Bay.
My God, cliches are good at masking giddiness aren't they?

What's Up Creampuff: Dudes That Got Hurt This Week

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stretcher.JPGWeek 2 of camp. More guys hurt. Let's round them up and poke some fun at their discomfort. How can I do this, you may ask? Because I use an alias. On to the wimps!

Coco Crisp, Red Sox: Let's let Amalie Benjamin of the Globe handle this one: "Coco Crisp not only is dealing with his tender groin muscles, but the center fielder is in line for a root canal today." That's one of the most painful sentences I've ever read. Looks like it'll be awhile before he can scratch his inner thighs with his teeth. Or get traded.

Adam Eaton, Phillies: Eaton has been complaining of back pain whilst getting shelled all week. I would recommend the Phillies have him see a back specialist. Then release him.

Jeff Kent, Dodgers: Grandpa pulled a hamstring. This guy turns 40 years old today and is still playing second base. That's really something. No truth to the rumors that Kent suffered the injury either washing his car or laughing maniacally at the fact that no one has signed Barry Bonds.

Jim Edmonds, Padres: Edmonds hurt his calf. You don't see those racists at PETA making a big deal about this, do you?

Doug Brocail, Astros: Raped by a wallaby.

Hank Joe Blalock, Rangers: Someone rear ended Blalock's car. This is what happens when you're eating In-N-Out and not paying attention where you're driving. Anyway, Blalock had whiplash and shoulder soreness but is feeling better.

SUPER PREDICTABLE UPDATE: Reader Matt T. sends in the news that Mike Hampton was just pulled from his second spring start with an undisclosed injury. Like Dr. Rock said below, some of these you could write in advance. Can't imagine the frustration for Hampton.

Eric Byrnes Is A Fruit

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Eric Byrnes got married. The story is just as annoying as you'd think it would be. Lest we be accused of drinking the haterade around here, there are genuinely good guys deserving of the occasional fluff piece. But this shit... man.

I'm not even going to tee off on this backwater Spicoli. I'm going to let the story speak for itself:

  • "This is who I am," the outfielder says, wearing plaid pajama pants and a D-Backs shirt in the bedroom of his Glendale home. "I won't change.

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  • Byrnes' unkempt hair and board-shorts-and-T style is comfortable, but it's a "managed effort," Tarah says. "He puts a lot of effort into looking like a surf bum.

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  • His iPod holds the latest, most popular songs that iTunes suggests. He's "multicultural" when it comes to music, but when he's at a club, he wants a good beat, he says, bobbing his head.

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  • "Love Matthew McConaughey," Byrnes says, looking much like the actor who recently captured attention for living in a motorhome on the beach.

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Scott Rolen May Be Self Destructive; Paranoid

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SadGuy.jpgYesterday's New York Times ran a story about Scott Rolen and his new digs up in Toronto. The story's headline, "Rolen Enjoying New Address: With Toronto, and Far From La Russa," belies the distrubing mental unrest that lies deep within the dark and tortured chasm of Rolen's mind and soul.

When Rolen, was asked if he would agree to an interview, he turned from infielder to interrogator. Rolen wanted to know what kind of questions he would have to field.

There are few conditions more debilitating than chronic paranoia. While I'm no medical expert, I can't help but wonder if the malady is part of a larger condition hinted at in the article: Self Destructive Behavior. The clue comes from midget folk hero David Eckstein:

"Eckstein said Rolen reveled in rumbling into middle infielders, which could be contagious."
While some may call that hustle, history suggests otherwise. WoW intern Darren found two instances of Rolen injuring his shoulder on the basepaths.

"Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen injured his left shoulder in a collision at first base on Tuesday night and was removed from St. Louis' game against the Dodgers... a collision with Arizona's Alex Cintron knocked Rolen out of the 2002 postseason, also with a left shoulder injury."
His continued wreckless abandon can mean only that he loathes the game in which he has made his name, and is trying to sabotage it. Hey this isn't my opinion, it's science.

Just like the theorem that posits if Rolen's shoulder and AJ Burnett's elbow ever touch it will create a black hole. Be careful out there fellas. Mental issues are one thing, destroying the time/space fabric of creation is quite another.

Carlos Lee Steers Away From Camp; Haha Get It?

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The-Rodeo-Queen2.jpgIn what has to be one of the more interesting clauses in the league, Carlos Lee exercised his contractual option to leave Astros camp and attend a livestock show in Houston. Lee raises Brahman cattle in South America and is one of the top cattleman on that continent. He also owns stake in some Texas cattle.

Much like the Astros, Lee can't compete this year because one of his business associates is a judge.

"It's still a good opportunity because I like the competition. What I'm more worried about is getting good animals in Panama and improving the genetics of the breed there."

Lee sounds like he really knows his stuff, but I'm not sure if "Panamanian Beef: We're Improving Our Genetics!" is a good slogan.

Last year, the slugger and his wife Mary attended the livestock show and got to meet the Bush family. That's some quality aged leather on the faces of Old George and Barbara.

shows_lose_weight.jpgThe biggest news out of Twins camp is newly svelte Boof Bonser. Homeboy has lost 35 pounds this offseason, which should make it easier on my back picking him up and dropping him 12 times in my fantasy league. Early reports say his stuff looks good, and that's essential to any success Minnesota might have this year. He did it by hiring a nutritionist and upping his activity level. Sounds practical, sounds healthy... but, dude. You're name is Boof. You're supposed to be all tubby.

Regardless of the aesthetics, Twins brass thinks this Al Roker shit is going to have an immediate positive impact his pitching:

"According to Bonser and pitching coach Rick Anderson, he can "finish" his pitches, meaning his gut no longer gets stuck between his chest and thighs like an airbag."

Yeah, I could see how that would be a problem.

Anyone Know If There's An In-N-Out In Peoria, AZ??

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ihascheezburger1.jpgOh wait nevermind. Here it is. In EIGHT DIFFERENT Spring Training columns. Listen, I know it's tough pumping out copy every single day from camp. I'm having a hard enough time and I get to cherry pick from every team in baseball. But, Jesus, I've read about the same goddamn In-N-Out Burger in separate columns from Richard Durrett, Evan Grant, Owen Perkins, Jonah Freedman, Mike Nadel, Greg Hansen (registration required, presumably to identify other burger lovers), and Sean Deveney... twice!

  • "The sky was clear, the air was crisp, the desert was alive and the In-N-Out Burger was open."

  • "There is an In-N-Out Burger spot near the Padres' complex in Peoria, which has four mega-size sports bars close to the baseball complex."

  • "...he tripped on a Peoria sidewalk while walking to In-N-Out Burger to get a salad Monday night."

  • "...the best hamburger chain of them all, In-N-Out Burger. Before taking in a Padres game, be sure to head north a few blocks on 83rd Avenue and have yourself a double."

  • "There's a Cheesecake Factory across the way, as well as Famous Dave's Barbeque. But, for me, going to Peoria means In-N-Out burgers."

The IT department at my job spends a good part of the day eating and talking about food. Every time I walk into their office there's an empty box of croissants with buttery grease stains making the bottom all translucent and it sticks to the table. It makes me want to puke. I'm starting to get the same feeling reading some of these sportswriters all day.

Greg+Brady+tiki.jpgSome writers have tried to manufacture excitement this spring by getting their shorts in a knot over the 2008 Tigers. I'd like to tell those same handsome writers to please take a closer look at what's going on with the Detroit bullpen.

Already the relief staff is being ravaged by arm trouble and governmental issues. Matt Mantei's comeback looks like it's over before it's even had a chance to start. With Joel Zumaya out till the All-Star Break, Fernando Rodney needs to be a rock in the set up slot, but now he's suffering from soulder tendinitis. Francisco Cruceta has so far been unable to obtain a visa which would, you know, allow him to come to the United States which, in my opinion, is crucial to being an effective reliever.

This early in the season you don't want to panic. That's why I think the logical move here is to completely demoilish Joker Marchant Stadium, spring training home of the Tigers. The place is clearly built on a haunted Seminole Indian Burial ground. You don't mess around with this shit. Giant floating ghost feathers and flaming arrowheads can really affect team chemistry. One minute Jim Leyland (that asshole) is lighting up a tasty Pall Mall, the next he's being lifted above the mound by the spirit of Cowkeeper while the trees around the stadium weep blood and the on-deck circle is ringed with blue flame. That's a tough environment to take honest stock of your youngsters.

Perhaps the wisdom of still healthy reliever Jason Grilli can guide them through these tough times. He's always had a knack for making lemonade out of limes.

Updates: The Tigers just released Mantei. He will retire. Also, Jim Leyland (that asshole): not an anal rapist.

That's Why They Play The Games: '08 AL West

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kick out da jams Every Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions. To read past weeks, click here.

According to Craig Finn, the kids out on the West Coast are screwing in the surf, getting high and riding around in GTOs (and I find that he's generally right on about these things). I have no problem with this. But if their parents are at all concerned, I would urge them to contact their local American League GM and see if they can get some more dynamic superstars to hold peoples' attention.

Last season the Angels casually held a lead for nearly the entire summer, while Seattle made some laid back runs at maybe taking over first place, but never really getting their panties in a bunch about it, man. After the jump, let's see if we can find some excitement for 2008.

Conditioning With Kosuke Fukudome

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Kosuke Fukdome is this year's hot Japanese baseball import. He's had a lot of offseason work to do as he was injured for most of his last season in Japan. Add that to all of the cultural adjustments he's had to make along with his new $48 million contract, and well... it's been an eventful few months. This behind the scenes look was sent to us by one of our tipsters.

Conditioning With Mark Mulder

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Mark Mulder is trying to work his way back into playing shape after shoulder surgery that ended his 2007 season. One of our tipsters sent in this video of Mulder trying to get back in the swing of things with the rest of his Cardinal coaches and teammates.